A central focus of neuroscience is understanding how sensory and motor neural networks interact as animals navigate their natural environments. The technology in the new two-photon imaging facility will help WVU researchers characterize the role motor control systems play in modulating animals’ sensory functions, supporting ongoing and new studies.
“Understanding how such complex circuit interactions take place requires a detailed characterization of circuit architecture and function as it relates to behavioral performance,” said Kevin Daly, professor of biology. “The high-resolution functional imaging from the two-photon microscopes will expand researchers’ capacities to study these complex motor-to-sensory circuits and how they interact.”
The facility will also be the centerpiece of WVU’s new Bachelor of Science degree in neuroscience, where the University will train the next generation of neuroscientists in the use of state-of-the-art imaging equipment in both independent studies and in neuroscience research capstone courses.
“As far as I am aware, this will be the first facility of its type in the world,” Daly said. “There is no facility that is proactively engaging undergraduates in a training program to use this type of technology.”
It will also provide graduate students exposure and training on technology to answer fundamental neuroscience research questions about nervous system structure and function at a level the University has not been able to provide in the past.
The facility is funded by an award from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research Defense University Research Implementation Program and the WVU Office of Sponsored Programs. It will be housed in the Department of Biology beginning fall 2019 to support faculty and students, including WVU faculty members conducting neuroscience research of interest to the U.S. Department of Defense. WVU faculty Charlie Anderson, Sadie Bergeron, Andrew Dacks and Gary Marsat contributed to the conceptualization and assembly of this grant.
“This facility will provide our neuroscience students and faculty access to state-of-the-art research technology,” said Richard Thomas, chair of the Department of Biology. “It will have a profoundly positive impact on WVU’s research enterprise.”
Originally from Katlin Swisher for WVU Today.